July 31, 2015

The Role of Coffee in Atrial Fibrillation

Is there anyone with atrial fibrillation who hasn’t been told that coffee and caffeine can cause or trigger atrial fibrillation?

The first step to controlling atrial fibrillation, we’re often told, is to eliminate coffee. Because of this, coffee and caffeine are frequent topics on afib discussion forums.

But there’s interesting information about coffee at the Micronutrient Information Center of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

This fascinating site contains interesting facts, such as that unfiltered coffee can raise total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. In addition, coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease, and there is no evidence that it increases the risk of cancer. It can increase blood pressure, but most studies found no increased cardiovascular disease risk from moderate consumption.

What was most interesting, though, was the relationship of coffee and cardiac arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation. According to the site,

“Clinical trials have not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in healthy people or people with CHD. A large prospective study in the US that followed more than 128,000 people for 7 years found no association between coffee consumption and sudden cardiac death. More recently, two prospective studies in Scandinavia found no association between coffee consumption and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a common supraventricular arrhythmia.”

So, according to this, coffee, even 5-6 cups per day, doesn’t play a role in developing atrial fibrillation or increasing the frequency or severity of arrhythmias.

When this topic comes up on a discussion forum, someone will inevitably say that they drink as much coffee they want as long as it’s organic or it’s decaf.

What has been your experience with coffee and afib? Does cutting out coffee or caffeine decrease or eliminate your atrial fibrillation? Or does it make it any difference at all?

How many of us grab some coffee when we’re stressed? Could it be stress, not coffee, that’s the culprit?


  1. Hi. My experience:
    When I drink coffee (just ONE drink) I get AF for between 1-3 days and as a result cannot sleep hardly at all for that time. My blood pressure sits around 150/100 during this time, whereas it is normal otherwise.
    This does NOT happen with Coke (or sugary foods) for me. Go figure!?!
    I am a healthy early-thirties male otherwise. No other medical conditions.


  1. […] On this blog, we wrote earlier about whether alcohol and coffee are really the culprits they are portrayed to be in causing atrial fibrillation? You can read those articles at Does Alcohol Put You at Risk for Atrial Fibrillation? and The Role of Coffee in Atrial Fibrillation. […]

  2. […] does coffee play an important role in AF cases? According to the blog entry that I read: Clinical trials have not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the […]